Record visitor spending across NC in 2018


Aug. 15. Tourism spending in North Carolina rose to $25.3 billion last year, a record. The data, which comes from an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina, has Mecklenburg County once again at the top, with $5.68 billion in visitor spending last year, up 5.6 percent from 2017.

Domestic visitors spent a record $25.3 billion statewide in 2018, also up 5.6 percent from 2017. State tax receipts as a result of visitor spending were close to $1.3 billion in 2018, and local tax revenues directly resulting from visitor spending totaled $774.6 million. Visitor expenditures directly supported more than 230,000 jobs and generated more than $6.3 billion in payroll income across North Carolina.

The state’s tourism industry set a new record last year in visitor spending despite the effects of major storms. Here are the state’s Top 10 tourist sites:

Noting that North Carolina ranks sixth in the nation for overnight visitation, Visit NC Executive Director Wit Tuttell said the spending growth in all 100 counties confirmed the appeal of the state’s destinations. “There’s a lot of competition for travelers’ time and money,” Tuttell said. “But people come to North Carolina when they know about the state’s natural beauty, our residents’ welcoming spirit, and the irresistible mix of tradition and innovation.”

In Cabarrus County, Charlotte Motor Speedway is No. 9 on the list of Top 10 NC destinations.

The visitor spending study commissioned by Visit North Carolina is conducted by the U.S. Travel Association. The study uses sales and tax revenue data, employment figures and other industry and economic data to determine the overall impact of visitor spending in North Carolina. Highlights include:

Wake County ranked second with $2.40 billion, followed by Guilford County with $1.49 billion, Buncombe with $1.21 billion and Dare with $1.19 billion in visitor spending.

Cabarrus County tourism brought in $469 million—the 12th-ranked county—and Iredell came in at No. 18 out of 100 counties, with $271 million in tourist spending last year.

The largest percent increases in visitor spending were seen in Onslow (8 percent), Beaufort (7.7 percent), Johnston (7.1 percent), Cherokee (7 percent) and Madison (6.8 percent) counties.

Richmond and Brunswick counties followed with a 6.7 percent and 6.5 percent increase respectively. Rounding out the top 10 in largest increases were Transylvania (6.5 percent), Henderson (6.4 percent), and tied for the 10th spot Cleveland (6.2 percent) and Buncombe counties (6.2 percent).

Positive spending growth was seen throughout the state’s economic development regions. The Southeast and North Central regions (5.8 percent growth each) and Western Region (5.7 percent) experienced the strongest growth, yet all eight regions had spending growth of 5 percent or more from 2017 to 2018.

Mecklenburg County had the largest number of direct tourism employees (53,300) and the largest payroll ($2 billion).

To see all 100 counties and how they did, go to




No comments yet.

Post a Comment